His youngest sister is going through something of a phase.
This is James’s first realization when he comes home for the first time in three months. (He meant to visit sooner, really. It’s just that things have been kind of hectic lately, with the success of Anne of Green Gables and the auditions that are coming his way because of it.) He’s always been closest to his younger sister, and now that she’s the only one who’s not away at college, he’s catching the full brunt of her latest obsession.
At the ripe old age of fourteen, Sara has apparently decided that she was born in the wrong era. She belongs in the fifties, she will wistfully say to anyone who’s listening. It was just a better time. Men were chivalrous, women were impeccably dressed…what more could anyone want? (Desegregation and equal pay might be nice, James thinks but doesn’t say. She’ll figure it out eventually.)
James has been teasing her pretty relentlessly about the whole thing (he’s her brother, okay, it’s practically an obligation– and that massive beehive on her head really did look like an astronaut’s helmet), but he has to confess that he’s a little impressed. Barring the phone that she’s not quite ready to give up, Sara is pretty committed to the whole thing. She’s cultivated an entire persona, from changing her whole wardrobe to forgoing the indie pop on her iPod in favor of Frank Sinatra. He wishes putting together a character were that simple for him, too.
But Sara is nothing if not helpful, and on the day before he leaves for North Carolina, she approaches her brother and asks if he still does ‘that character playlist thing.’
“Yes…” he says slowly.
“Good,” she says, plunking down next to him on the couch and snatching his phone from his hands.
“Sara- what- I was using that, you know,” he says, as she plugs it into her laptop.
His little sister raises her eyebrows. “What, to try and beat 2048? Your high score is like, one thousand. I think you should consider giving up on that dream.”
James considers arguing, but honestly she’s right, so he just shakes his head and slumps back against the cushions. “So, uh, what are you doing exactly?”
“Making you a playlist.”
“That’s really nice of you, Sara, but actually, I’ve already got-”
“Yeah, yeah, I know, you’ve already got your character playlists and they’re the perfect blend of introspective indie and emotionally evocative classics. This isn’t for characters. This is for the romance.” His face must register his total confusion, because Sara heaves a sigh before she explains. “Look, your taste in music is great, but let’s face it: no one ever kisses with The National playing in the background, okay?”
“What? I’m pretty sure that’s not true,” James says, but she ignores him.
“Trust me, okay? Some love songs are timeless.”
He lets her load the playlist onto his phone, figuring that it’ll make her happy, and it’s not like he has to listen to it anyway. It sits there with his own character playlists, untouched until he accidentally plays it in the background while he’s going over some lines.
One song in, and he thinks Sara might have a point. Three songs in and he fiddles with the title so that it’ll fall just after his other playlists for Ben.
A week later, when he’s filming the kiss and he has to mention how great the imaginary music is, James knows exactly what song Ben is hearing in his head.